Study: One third of parents expect shooting at child’s high school

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One third of parents believe their local high school will be the focus of a shooting incident in the next three years, according to a new study from Ball State University.

The survey found that 36% believed an incident at their local high school is ‘highly likely’.

The study abstract (Payton, E., Khubchandani, J., Thompson, A. et al. J Community Health (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-017-0360-5) published in The Journal of Community Health, a peer-reviewed publication, states:

Firearm violence remains a significant problem in the US (with 2787 adolescents killed in 2015). However, the research on school firearm violence prevention practices and policies is scant. Parents are major stakeholders in relation to firearm violence by youths and school safety in general. The purpose of this study was to examine what parents thought schools should be doing to reduce the risk of firearm violence in schools. A valid and reliable questionnaire was mailed to a national random sample of 600 parents who had at least one child enrolled in a public secondary school (response rate = 47%).

Parents perceived inadequate parental monitoring/rearing practices (73%), peer harassment and/or bullying (58%), inadequate mental health care services for youth (54%), and easy access to guns (51%) as major causes of firearm violence in schools. The school policies perceived to be most effective in reducing firearm violence were installing an alert system in schools (70%), working with law enforcement to design an emergency response plan (70%), creating a comprehensive security plan (68%), requiring criminal background checks for all school personnel prior to hiring (67%), and implementing an anonymous system for students to report peer concerns regarding potential violence (67%). Parents seem to have a limited grasp of potentially effective interventions to reduce firearm violence.

The study also says there is a lack of research about specific interventions schools should take to reduce their risk of this sort of gun violence; and that’s because of how rare the incidents actually are. The fact that they are highly publicized, the study says, is why misconceptions can occur about their frequency and risks.

The Ball State study cites a total of 2,787 recorded firearm deaths occurred in 2015 among Americans younger than 19 years old, with 95 percent of homicides and suicides that year happening off of school grounds.

Download the Infographic: How to Spot the Warning Signs – Connecting the Dots

The charts accompanying this article represent the top-three issues parents perceived as “very important” causes of school firearm violence.

According to the study, parents said the most effective anti-gun violence school policies are as follows: installing an alert system in schools, working with law enforcement to design an emergency response plan, creating a comprehensive security plan, requiring criminal background checks for all school personnel prior to hiring and implementing an anonymous system for students to report peer concerns regarding potential violence.

Firestorm has addressed these perceived and real gaps and preventative approaches through the development of the Firestorm Behavioral Risk Threat Assessment Program, or BeRThA®.

The answer to keeping our children and employees safe lies in prevention. It is the job of every school administrator and board member to try and prevent acts of violence.

Acts of violence in schools rarely come as a surprise, and are perpetrated by current and former students, employees, domestic partners of employees or, in rare cases, total strangers.

  • Virtually all acts are committed by individuals with a relationship of some kind to the school.
  • Virtually all individuals who commit acts of violence exhibit warning signs before doing so.
  • Virtually all individuals who commit acts of violence tell at least one, and sometimes up to three people, before doing so.

School Shooting Prevention through FirestormIt is critical that schools and organizations do all they can to identify those students and employees who need help, and intervene with trained resources that will provide the counseling and case management the individual needs. This raises the likelihood that the gun never comes to school, the sexual assault never occurs or the bullying is stopped before it becomes a problem.

To read more of this Ball State study, ‘Parents’ Expectations of High Schools in Firearm Violence Prevention’, click here.

To learn more about the Firestorm BeRThA® program, contact Firestorm at (800) 321-2219.

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